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I've owned the Elite: Dangerous game since February 2015 and spent over 2,000 hours on it to date. I have three accounts for this game. This is the only game I've bought more than once and I play it every day. I'm not alone, Elite Dangerous has sold 1.45 million copies since it was released.

If you lack patience, if you want instant gratification, if you have no imagination, or if you expect to be a game god dominating everything and everyone around you within an hour, do not buy this game. You'll be disappointed. This is a game where you need to think and plan ahead in both the long and short term. Your decisions have consequences and responsibility for your success or failure is pretty much on your shoulders. This game gives you nothing, but a small starter ship and 1,000 credits. You have to earn everything from that point forward yourself. Disappointed players don't understand this simple point. If you want it, you need to go out and get it.

There's no getting around this. Elite: Dangerous is HARD; at least until you understand the many facets of game play. There is a steep learning curve. It does not hold your hand and explain every little thing as you go. You drive your own experience. The game is unforgiving. Mistakes, even small ones, can kill you. The game is real time. There is no pause, there is no save (except when you dock or log off), the game goes on no matter what you do.

When you start the game, you'll have the option to do tutorial missions. DO THE TUTORIALS. Make your mistakes there as you learn how to fly and fight. You may spend several hours in the tutorials adjusting controls, trying different throttle settings and getting comfortable. This is time well spent. Skip the tutorials and you will regret it.

Elite: Dangerous is immersive. The visuals and sound are like a hot bath you sink into. Weapon and engine noises differ with each ship model. You can modify your ships with more powerful engines, weapons, armor, shields and equipment. I play the game in 1080 resolution with 7.1 surround sound headphones and it is awe inspiring at times. The game can be used with most VR equipment. Oculus Rift and Vive are directly supported.

The game does not dictate morality. You play as friendly or vindictive as you like. You can be a white knight hero or despised despot with a hefty price on your head. Or you can act differently with every encounter. As long as it's within the Terms of Service for the game you choose how you play.

The Elite: Dangerous galaxy is the same one we live in today. There are 400 billion stars and 99% can be explored or visited. It is therefore a mind bogglingly massive game map where only 0.02% of the galaxy has been explored after a year of play. Planetary landings were introduced in the Horizons season expansion and you can drive around on the surfaces of literally billions of planets. The ability to land on atmospheric planets and Earth-like worlds is coming in future seasons.   

Comments that this is a simple space trucker sim are from people who rage quit when they were not perfect in the first half hour. As I said, it takes time to get the flight mechanics and game system under control. Once you "get it" you can pivot in space and fire behind you without losing forward momentum. True Newtonian physics, if you want it. 

The one word you are going to run into is "grind." Grind refers to improving your position by doing repetitive things to get money, rank and experience quickly. In my opinion, the players who grind are doing it wrong. There is no end game, there are no victory conditions and you don't "win" Elite: Dangerous.  People grind to get into the top end ships as quickly as possible and this usually ends up making them bitter about their game experience. That isn't the way to play. You have fun, do what you want to do and let the experience and credits come your way naturally. The best ship in the game, according to some players, is an Anaconda. It costs 147 million credits just to buy the base ship and you'll need twice that amount again to outfit it. I might be a third of the way to getting one, but I really don't care about that. The other ships (There are thirty vessels currently) are fun to fly and adventure with. I have a blast in whatever ship I pilot.

A full list of ships (with the ability to modify them into various configurations) can be found here:

http://coriolis.io/

In a traditional flight game, you set pitch, yaw, roll and throttle and away you go in seconds. Elite: Dangerous has several dozen controls you can adjust just for piloting your craft. Many of them are OFF by default, but as you grow more confident and daring you'll find those settings add a depth and sophistication all their own. You can use a mouse and keyboard, or game controller, but a joystick or HOTAS rig will give you the best experience IMHO.

You can choose to be a pirate, bounty hunter, miner, explorer, trader, smuggler or switch from one career to the other as you see fit. Many players have several ships they switch between.

Elite: Dangerous is a game of power management. When in game you only have a certain amount of power for your ship. You need to manage your shields, weapons and engine power to play effectively. In game, this is known as the SYS - ENG - WEP. Adding power to one takes it away from the others. Learn the implications of this in a safe environment (tutorials). You ship will need fuel to power internal systems. Run out of fuel and you will die. You ship also has limited life support if you suffer a hull breach. Run out of air and you will die.

Heat is your enemy. Weapons fire, silent running and flying too close to some planetary bodies or suns make your ship hot. You need to know what to do because extreme heat will damage your ship hull and internal components. If your hull falls to 0% you will die.

There are three game modes. You may log into or out of any of them without penalty. All of them require a constant Internet connection be active. They are:

Open - This is where many people start. You can interact with thousands of other Commanders (CMDR's). Many CMDR's are decent, helpful and friendly. Some keep to themselves and may not communicate. However, be aware that it's a dangerous galaxy with some CMDR's who will shoot you up without warning just to watch you burn. Open is for people who know what they are doing and can either defend themselves or know how to run. Both PC's and NPC's can be found in Open. Both can try to kill you or take your cargo. PC CMDR's can be identified by hollow triangles. Green are friends, yellow are unknown and red are hostile. Remember, just because someone is green does not mean you are safe from them.

Solo - This is the same as Open, but you are the only PC. You can learn game mechanics here without the danger of players shooting you up. Be warned, NPC's will still interdict and/or try to engage you.

Private Groups - This is for several players to either game privately or with like minded players. Not ready for Open? Then join a private group where you can learn the game in (relative) safety. Form your own group for you and your friends, or join an established one.

The largest private group is Mobius with over 20,000 players and more joining daily. Mobius is PVE where player versus player combat is only allowed under extremely limited conditions. Their discussion forum is here:

https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=38362

There are groups for various countries and languages as well. English, French, German and Russian languages are available in game. You can join other players in what are called Wings. A Wing can have up to four PC players together with in-game voice comms to coordinate activities.

Game missions involve retrieving rare or needed items, tracking down an enemy and destroying them, bounty hunting, mining, landing on planets, exploring, assassination missions, delivering messages or smuggling cargo. You can investigate unknown signals or if you are into the pew-pew, head into a combat zone. More content is planned over a total ten year development plan of which only a year has gone by. The game is being improved continuously.

There's an insurance scheme in the game where ship losses (NOT cargo) are covered. With proper insurance coverage you'll get your ship back as it was. If you fly without enough insurance and lose your ship, you'll end up with a basic Sidewinder and 1,000 credits which is what you start the game with. Do not fly without insurance unless you are willing to lose your ship and effectively start again. I repeat, do not fly without insurance unless you are willing to accept the consequences. Players have lost over 100,000,000 credits worth of ship and cargo in a heartbeat.

If you die, you lose any unclaimed bounties, combat bonds, cargo, and some missions.

Elite: Dangerous is very dangerous, but oh so rewarding once you get it right. The devs are working on more game content and improving things all the time. This is a game in progress and you can have input into how the future will look by participating in official discussion forums here:

https://forums.frontier.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=29

I have made a series of videos on the various aspects of the game here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr0ohBrfo3ImP7gOhvY2gL0tlVD1J0ti-

I've only scratched the surface, there is so much more to discover. The game is not perfect. There are bugs and given the vastness of play, something will inevitably annoy you. However, if you can see past the issues (which are being fixed and improved by the devs constantly) and this style of game play appeals, then you'll have a great time.

Before you buy, watch my video series, read as many reviews as you can and educate yourself to the complexities of the game before plonking down any money. Elite: Dangerous is a great game for me, but that does not mean it will be for you.

The game is available for PC, XBox and Mac computers. More info at the link below.

http://elitedangerous.com

Good luck CMDR. Hopefully, I'll see you in the big black at some point. Here is some video (watch full screen and on a decent sound system for full effect) and in-game screenshots I captured while playing.

 
 
My current home PC runs Windows XP. It has served me well for almost 8 years. I have used Linux in the past, but always as a secondary OS. I do plan on upgrading to 64-bit hardware in the New Year, but wanted to look at Windows 8 before building it up. If I'm going to buy top-of-the-line cutting edge hardware, I want something decent to run on it that will last the life of the PC. Seems there are a lot of folks out there touting Windows 8 as a viable upgrade. I have a couple of licenses to use at work and have spent the last three weeks reviewing it.

Windows 8 is designed to run on PC's, tablets and phones. As such, it tries to be a Jack of all trades and ends up being a master of none. Indeed, Windows 8 is a string of small annoyances that build up over time to totally frustrate the user. After the initial install, there is no username, you have to enter an email address to log on. This irks me as I suspect this gets sent to Microsoft for their use and their partners. I used my spam email account for that, but not everyone has one. Once logged in, the desktop interface is not intuitive and even when you are on the "Desktop" you really aren't. (Note to Microsoft. If you have to give animated demo's to show people how to access the desktop features, it isn't intuitive enough.)

Icons are no longer used, instead they replaced them with large tiles. These tiles for Facebook, email, photos, apps, Office, weather (plus a bunch of other crap I will never use) are spread out more than the width of the screen. Now, this is just with a base install. Adding more programs will make this issue much worse over time. This type of setup would work on a touch sensitive screen like a tablet or phone, you can slide over with your finger and voila. However, on a PC it becomes ungainly to use a mouse to navigate back and forth. I use a 24" 1920 x 1080 monitor and the tiles are still off the screen! When you open a new program it goes full screen with a lot of wasted space. There is no Start button anymore and accessing a program list is again, not intuitive.

The home screen in Windows 8 looks childish. All of the tiles share common colors and blend together so you end up scanning all of them to find what you want. Blah, just blah.

So after diddling with Windows 8 in both virtual and actual hardware, I have decided to put (pause for dramatic effect) Windows 7 on my new PC. Microsoft will be supporting Windows 7 until Jan 14, 2020 and honestly as an IT professional that deadline does not worry me. Windows 7 is a 64-bit multi-core OS with traditional desktop and relatively intuitive design. If Microsoft follows past trends then Windows 9 will correct the more egregious errors of Windows 8, but honestly I am looking at non-Windows alternatives for future consideration. Beyond email and web browsing, I use my PC for two things; writing and gaming. I wrote my last novel on Google Docs so there is little need to have MS Office. However, if needed I can get LibraOffice for free which handles Office document formats (http://www.libreoffice.org/). As for gaming, 85% of my games are bought through VALVe's Steam store. I'm waiting for the rumored SteamBox from VALVe to come out (http://store.steampowered.com/). At that point, my games will be available through that device and I'll no longer be tied to a Windows based PC. I'll probably go with a Linux OS at that point.

As the web becomes more accessible, there are multiple operating systems available, many at zero cost. Computer users now have a choice they did not have several years ago. You no longer need to be tied to Microsoft's IE. Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome are perfectly usable browsers, modifiable and FREE. There are many more choices out there, they are the more popular at the moment. As Cloud computing evolves, there is less emphasis on the operating system. Before you invest in a great deal of frustration, look at alternatives and make an informed decision.